My 14 year old daughter, Morgan, is done growing. I took her to the pediatrician and we did a bone scan so I make this statement with authority. She is 4 feet 11 inches tall. A mini. And she is gorgeous. Not only is she physically beautiful, but she is wise, funny, kind and thoughtful, too. She’s also wiser than I am much of the time and I really look up to her (ok, since I’m 5 feet 8 inches tall, I literally look down on her but I look up to her wisdom, if you follow me).
For the past year or so, Morgan lamented over her height. She so badly wanted to be five feet tall at least. We even did a little research on taking growth hormones. The risks, we determined, weren’t worth it. Plus once we went to the pediatrician and did the bone scan, it was too late anyway. The bones had fused and forevermore, she was going to be whatever height she was meant to be. No tweaking what nature intended.
Morgan was born in Russia. Her birth weight was under five pounds and she went full term. Her birth mother relinquished custody right there in the hospital. For the next year, Morgan spent most of her time in a hospital fighting off pneumonia and whooping cough. So, really, she didn’t have a lot of opportunity to catch up on weight. When she was placed in the orphanage, I am told that she wasn’t a big eater and was overwhelmed by her surroundings, especially during meal and snack time. She quickly developed a habit of putting food in her mouth and simply sucking on it for as long as it would hold up. When I met Morgan and adopted her, she was 26 months old and weighed 19-1/2 pounds. She was so cute and, well, tiny. And today, she is still cute and tiny.
Morgan gets teased a lot about her size. But as far as I can tell, it is all in gest– no bullying. She is called Tiny, Mini, and Munchkin by her friends. Yesterday, she read to me a post she sent on via Instagram: I am tiny and I love it. I breathe less oxygen, my Uggs cost less, and I can wear any heals I want without being taller than a guy. I love my size! The response was overwhelming. Her friends loved her post! One cute boy said, “What, you’re small? I never noticed. hahaha.”
Oh my gosh– my heart exploded with pride. Yes, Morgan! Go girl. Own what God gave you. Rock it, have fun with it, and make no excuses for it. Confidence is amazing. And even if we don’t feel that confidence, if we outwardly act like it long enough, I believe the inner confidence will follow.
This lesson from my daughter couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Lately I’ve been obsessing over my own body images. When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in January 2012, I had to undergo some pretty intense treatment. And today, I’m still on maintenance drugs. One of those drugs is a steroid and it eats away at muscle. So no matter how much I exercise and lift weights, I’m still going to loose muscle mass. I am weaker than I was pre treatment. I once had really nice calves and quads because I ran several days a week. While I never had six-pack abs, I nonetheless had a decent tummy. But no more. I look at my body some days and want to cry. This can’t be mine, I want to scream.
But it is mine. And there you have it. So instead of hating my body, I’m really trying to recognize some great things about it. Here goes my list.
I love my flawed 46 year old amazing body because…
-It can take some pretty crazy drugs and still keep going. Seriously, how many bodies out there can take intense chemo, go bald and eyelash- and eyebrow-less, and not need IV fluids to survive? How many bodies out there can crave nutritious food in the middle of chemo treatments? Not many, I can assure you!
-It can walk, run, hike and do pretty much anything. Granted, I don’t do any of these things as well as I used to, but nonetheless, all the body parts are still working.
-It can grow hair– and it grows like a weed. Even though I now have crazy curly and frizzy hair, it is still hair nonetheless. I never have bad hair days anymore. Not because it looks great all the time, but rather because I’m simply grateful that I have hair at all. Thank goodness for my favorite hairstylist in the entire world (I love you, Kelsey!), a flat iron that I know how to use, and hair products, that’s all I can say. And if I didn’t have anything to help tame my unruly hair? So what? I no longer need to wear a wig everywhere I go. That is amazing!
-It can fight for health and healing. Two stem cell transplants, intense chemo, and emotional trauma that is unimaginable, but yet my body wanted to heal. Even though I’m still immune compromised and I tend to get sick whenever there’s a flu virus, I recover quickly (knock on wood).
-It can see, hear, and touch. Many of my medications have nasty side effects that include vision loss, neuropathy so painful that some can hardly walk, and diminished feeling in fingers and hands. Somehow I function quite well, nonetheless. The feeling in my feet is about half of what it once was but I can do everything I want to, I just never go barefoot. And while I don’t see so well anymore, reading glasses from the Dollar Store work perfectly.
-My boyfriend loves me just the way I am (and if he didn’t, well, ok that’s the way it is). And so do all the people that matter to me.
If I had a magic wand, there’s lots of things I’d change about my body. I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model (come to think of it, I never did), but I can’t change it. I live, love and laugh. I love to wear fun clothes, get dressed up, and rock whatever I’ve got to the best of my ability. And I’ll just keep telling my body this: I love you, you’re a warrior, a survivor, and we’re in this together. We’ve got this- let’s keep going! I’ll keep saying and thinking this again and again and again until I actually believe it better.
Thanks, sweet daughter, Morgan, for the much-needed lesson. I love you! You inspire me, amaze me, and teach me.